Lit. Bow-exchanging ceremony(交拜禮)
Exchanging of ceremonial bows between bride and groom during a traditional wedding ceremony.
Gyobaerye takes place at the bride’s home, either in the wooden-floored hall (daecheong), if it is large enough, or in the courtyard where a canopy and large table have been set up. Details vary according to region and family, but generally the ceremonial table features a pair of candles, one red and the other blue, pine and bamboo sprays arranged in a vase, chestnuts, jujubes, rice, a pair of gourd cups, and a rooster and a hen wrapped in a cloth. The pine spray in the vase is tied with red thread, and the bamboo with blue thread. The ceremonial table is called gyobaesang (Kor. 교배상, Chin. 交拜床, lit. table for the exchange of ceremonial bows) or daeryesang (Kor. 대례상, Chin. 大禮床, lit. table for the grand ceremony). A pair of small tables is arranged to the east and west of the main table with a liquor ewer and cup on each. When the set time arrives, the ceremony starts according to the procedures written on a ceremonial tablet.
① The bride and groom in full wedding garments appear and take their seats in the east (groom) and west (bride) of the main ceremonial table and wash their hands with water from the basins provided. ② The groom greets his bride by raising clasped hands and the bride bows in return. ③ The groom stands east of the table and the bride west, facing each other. ④ The bride gives two ceremonial bows to the groom and receives from him one bow. ⑤ The bride gives two ceremonial bows to the groom a second time and receives from him one bow. In the modernized ceremony, both bride and groom exchange bows at the same time.
The positions where the bride and groom stand are based on the traditional belief that men represent east and women west. The exchange of ceremonial bows, two by the bride and one by the groom, is based on the traditional yin and yang philosophy, in which the bride is yin and is given the number one, the smallest of all the yin (odd) numbers, while the groom is yang and is given the number two, the smallest of all the yang (even) numbers. The rooster and hen placed on the table symbolize the wish for the groom to live like a rooster, and for the bride to live like a hen. A rooster, as far as Koreans are concerned, protects his mate and chicks, finds food for them, fights fiercely with his rivals to protect his family, and tells the times for all with loud crowing. The groom is expected to learn from the rooster, and live as a responsible husband, working hard to protect and feed his family, fighting fiercely to keep his honor and living rights, and acting wisely based on correct understanding and judgement of the world. Similarly, the bride is expected to learn from the hen and faithfully follow her husband, taking good care of their chicks and household affairs. The exchange of ceremonial bows in gyobaerye is then a solemn pledge to be faithful to each other until death and learn lessons from nature for their married life ahead.